(Photo: AP Images / Charlie Neibergall)
Who is Herman Cain? Those who follow politics have been asking themselves that very question every since the former CEO of Godfather’s Pizza and former chairman of the Board of Directors of the Federal Reserve Bank of Kansas City formed a presidential exploratory committee earlier this year. Cain currently hosts a radio talk show, “The Herman Cain Show” on WSB-AM-FM/Atlanta.
Cain has shown some early promise in the 2012 presidential campaign, winning an on-site presidential straw poll at an Arizona Tea Party convention in February. He frequently travels around the country talking to Americans about how he would solve the nation’s problems.
Recently, The Christian Post caught up with Cain and asked him about his faith and possible presidential run.
CP: Talk briefly about your faith.
Cain: My faith plays a very big part in all the decisions that I make. Faith makes up a big part of most of my life. I’ve been involved with the church since I was young. As you get older, your faith gets stronger because of your own personal experiences where you know the only way you could have made it through some of those personal experiences was by the grace of God. Faith plays a very big part in my life, especially when I’m having to wrestle with some major decisions.
CP: Why are you considering a run for president?
Cain: I think it began with my thinking about the parable of the talents in Matthew 25. Throughout my life, I have been blessed to have had a successful career, a loving wife of 42 years, two adult children and now three grandkids. I’ve developed my problem-solving skills as a businessman, developed my leadership skills as a businessman, developed my communications skills as a businessman, developed my radio talk show. One day, I sat down and looked at all the talents I had been allowed to develop and after going through some other personal life-threatening things, I asked myself what should I do with these talents? Should I stay on cruise control for the rest of my life? Or should I do something truly significant with them? That led me to consider a presidential exploratory committee. I was inspired because of discomfort in the direction of the country. I was inspired by thinking about my grandkids’ generation and what they would inherit if we did not stop this rapid train to destruction for this country.
I was also inspired by the life-threatening experience I had with cancer nearly five years ago, when I was told I had a 30 percent chance of being alive today. I am totally cancer free. I believe that was God’s way of saying “Herman, not yet, I want you to do something with the talents that I have allowed you to develop.” I could go out and start another company and make some more money, play some more golf. But a year ago, I started to seriously consider putting together an exploratory committee, thinking that maybe my skill set could help this country. I didn’t have a lifelong aspiration to be president. It wasn’t until I saw the direction that President Obama and his administration were taking this country, that I really got concerned like a lot of people. That’s when God started to lay on my heart that maybe I needed to be one of the choices for the American people.
CP: How did your faith influence your decision to set up an exploratory presidential committee?
Cain: Very simply, prayer. I believe in prayer and I believe in the power of prayer. I pray multiple times a day. This is a constant part of how I assess and evaluate things. I look for that inspiration when I have to make a decision. I believe in God, I believe in his son Jesus Christ, and I believe in the Holy Spirit. If you are a believer and you know how to pray, and you understand how and when God is trying to talk to you, it is one of the most liberating feelings in the world.
CP: What has been the response so far from Americans about your possible run for president?
Cain: It has exceeded our expectations. I have won three nonscientific straw polls, and in some of the other straw polls that haven’t gotten that much visibility, I have started to place in the top five. I’ve also done a lot of speaking and the reception has just been overwhelming. One of the things people ask me is, “What makes you think you can be president since you’ve never held public office?” I say to them, “Well, most of the people in Washington, D.C., have held public office before and how’s that working for you?” That question reminds me of Einstein’s definition of insanity: To keep doing the same thing the same way and expecting different results. We keep wanting to send people to Washington, D.C., who’ve held public office and the problems don’t get better, they get worse. So maybe it’s time for a different alternative, and maybe that’s a businessman problem-solver.
CP: How has your background prepared you for being president?
Cain: First of all, my formal education is in mathematics and computer science. I have an analytic bent, a problem-solving bent. Mathematicians’ minds are trained to solve problems. I started out with Pillsbury and climbed the corporate ladder by solving problems and I did the same thing with Burger King. Then I went to Godfather’s Pizza, which was supposed to be going bankrupt, and turned it around. These three instances illustrate the fact that I have the ability to take over a situation with problems, develop a plan to solve those problems, avail myself of the right people in order to be able to solve those problems, and then to have the communication skills to empower the entire organization to support achievement of those goals and objectives. I think they call that leadership. I happen to believe that all those experiences and my approach to problem solving and what it takes to solve problems and move an organization forward will move the nation forward are exactly the same way. That’s what I can bring to the table in this exploratory quest for the presidency.
CP: What are some of the issues facing America today?
Cain: My short list is about seven crises: a moral crisis, an economic crisis, an entitlement-spending crisis, an energy crisis, a national security crisis, an immigration crisis and a deficiency of leadership crisis. That’s why we have so many problems that don’t get solved - we have a deficiency of leadership in the White House, and we have a deficiency of leadership in the U.S. Congress. There are a few leaders in Congress, but it’s just not enough. You cannot run the nation by committee. You cannot run a war by committee. You can’t turn around a company or a country by committee. So the deficiency of leadership starts in the White House, quite frankly, which is one of the reasons that I wanted to do the exploratory committee.
I did not want to hope that the Republican Party would nominate the strongest possible candidate to run against President Obama. I’m going to run as a Republican, but I didn’t want to sit back and say I hope the Republicans nominate the best, strongest candidate we can to run against Obama, because he’s still going to be difficult to beat despite his deficiencies. If it’s not me, I hope that the person selected would be even stronger than I am in terms of their ability to get this country back on the right track. My friend the late Jack Kemp said, “Rising tides lift all boats.” If I can be a rising tide for a potential Republican contender and lift all boats, we will end up with the strongest candidate after the convention in Chicago in 2012.
CP: What are some next steps for you in this process?
Cain: First, I will continue to raise money, which is going good. Second, will be to continue to build our organization. I’ve been able to attract some very strong people. We’ve got people on the ground in Iowa, New Hampshire and North Carolina, the early primary states. Third, I will continue to refine my message about how I plan to address solving those critical crises I talked about. As that progresses, we will decide a definite no-go or go date with me as a declared candidate. I can tell you right now that we’re still moving forward, but it’s still not a slam dunk at this time. My faith is also impacting when I make a final decision and when I make that final decision public.